October 2010

No More Waiting: Holmes And Watson Roll Again

Newly posted on my personal blog:

I have been away for more than a week, and during that time at least three or four readers have been waiting patiently for Chapter 20 of my factual/fictional work-in-progress, in which Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are investigating the mysterious death of Welsh code-breaker Gareth Williams.

Fortunately for all of us, the wait is over. I am back at my desk on a more regular basis, and the 20th chapter is finished and posted.

I understand that following a serial-in-progress can be frustrating for those who prefer to read the last page of a mystery first. They want to see how it turns out before they read the rest of the book, and in this case it is simply not possible.

On the other hand, there may be some compensation in knowing that the last page of this story is not yet written -- and that my readers will find out what happens immediately after I find out myself.

For those who have been waiting, here's the newest: [Chapter 20: Unthinkable]

For those wishing to start at the beginning, this would be the link: [Sherlock Holmes and the Alderny Street Mystery]

Many thanks to those who have been encouraging me with respect to the "Alderney Street" project. I hope you will enjoy the newest chapter and those to come.

More soonest...

Mollom stats after 1 week

Thought you guys may be interested;

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Mollom Stats Week 1 - bottom half of page

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the corporate court

the corporate court
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Elections soon

Yes I know they're all rigged, but I plan to partake. Voting Green.

Any Americans reading this, please vote Green on Nov 2! Or tell me who's better?

GreenChange.org

These are the ten planks of the Green New Deal:

* Cut military spending at least 70%
* Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation
* Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them
* Establish single-payer "Medicare for all" health care
* Provide tuition-free public higher education
* Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards
* End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana
* Enact tough limits on credit interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation
* Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood
* Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reforms

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The appearance of impropriety

"Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day."

Thomas recently founded a right-wing activist group called Liberty Central, and there has been chatter about the impropriety of her activities with that organization given that the tea party-like group's funding sources are unclear and there may be conflicts of interests with cases that come before her husband.

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the appearance of impropriety

the appearance of impropriety

Surprise! Canadian Forces Commander Was A Serial Killer

Like every other day, I suppose, it's been a day of sick news.

You can read my latest post here, and your comments are welcome below.

Disruptions At French Oil Refineries Continue, May Extend

As this Wall Street Journal article says, 10 refineries out of 12 stopped activity protesting against a government-sponsored pension reform throughout France. It's rare to see populations fight the economical power to this degree, even for a country like France. Officially government reserves could be unlocked and cover 1 month of needs, nonetheless they expect shit to really hit the fan over the next 48 hours. There has been a lot of repression during demonstrations, which is rather new as well. Knowing the people leading this country, you can only expect even "firmer" counter-measures because they are running out of time. Maybe it's naive, but I do think the outcome of this crisis might be very important, who knows? In other countries, other people may start thinking hitting the powers-that-be in such ways. Do you think this means anything? Either way there's definitely a lot of tension around here.

Common Ground With A War Criminal

That's right: I share an important ... um ... understanding ... with ... well ... hey! Stryker Brigade Commander Harry D. Tunnell IV Sneered At COIN Doctrine, And So Do I

Your comments are invited.

Sounds Like A Great Idea! But How Are They Doing It?

There's a very short new post at my blog. I can't give you any excerpts without ruining the surprise.

You can read it here if you wish, and you can comment below too. If you wish.

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Cryptogate, Siemens and Stuxnet

Here's another spy story for you. Not as thrilling as Winter's excellent ongoing tale but interesting and informative, I hope. smiling I stumbled upon this story while doing some late night googling on the Stuxnet worm. As you know this worm works "by exploiting previously unknown security holes in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It then seeks out a component called Simatic WinCC, manufactured by Siemens, which controls critical factory operations. The malware even uses a stolen cryptographic key belonging to the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer RealTek to validate itself in high-security factory systems."

It seemed unbelievable to me that the German electronic giant Siemens could have released such critical software containing a well known security risk and even more unbelievable that they could have known the code had been leaked for two years and done nothing about it. See my previous comment on this here. Surprisingly (or maybe not), this is not the first time Siemens and Iran have been linked in a far reaching story of espionage, foul play and stolen cryptographic keys. You can judge for yourself if you think Siemens was simply incompetent, or unethical, in selling their easily hackable software to critical industries worldwide or whether their history suggests this may have been the plan.

Note to James: I am leaning towards MIHOP here. So's Eileen! smiling

On March 18, 1992 Hans Buehler, a top salesman for the Swiss company Crypto AG, was arrested in Tehran, Iran and accused of spying for the US and Germany. For the next nine months, he was held in solitary confinement and questioned repeatedly as to whether he had leaked the codes to Iranian and Libyan encrypted communications to western powers.

A Swedish cryptographer, Boris Hagelin founded Crypto AG in 1952 in Zug, Switzerland. Boris was the renowned inventor of the "Hagelin-machine". Hundreds of thousands of his "Hagelin-machines" were used in World War II on the side of the Allies to decrypt enemy communications. As Switzerland was perceived as a discreet place, a neutral nation that could be trusted, their enciphering devices for voice communication and digital data networks were popular. In the ensuing years, Crypto AG built up long standing relationships with over 130 countries.

"The purchasing nations, confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, teletype, and facsimile. They not only conducted sensitive albeit legal business and diplomacy, but sometimes strayed into criminal matters, issuing orders to assassinate political leaders, bomb commercial buildings, and engage in drug and arms smuggling.

Both Iran and Libya had purchased their cryptographic communication equipment from the Swiss company. The Iranians had become suspicious that their codes had been leaked after Ronald Regan had announced to the world that the US had been reading secret Libyan communications in "a speech justifying the retaliatory bombing of Libya for its alleged involvement in the La Belle discotheque bombing in Berlin's Schoeneberg district." This suspicion was further solidified when "the U.S. provided the contents of encrypted Iranian messages to France to assist in the conviction of Ali Vakili Rad and Massoud Hendi for the stabbing death in the Paris suburb of Suresnes of the former Iranian prime minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and his personal secretary Katibeh Fallouch".

Apparently however, the Iranians eventually believed Buehler's story that he did not know anything. In 1993, Crypto AG paid Iran one million German Marks for his return, then promptly fired him a few weeks later ordering him to repay the bond. The reason given was that "Buehler's publicity, especially during and after his return, was harmful for the company". What is more likely is that they had satisfied themselves that Buehler had not given away any of their secrets and because Buehler had been asking some embarrassing questions.

Buehler's story prompted the Swiss and German news media to investigate the company. (Perhaps the Iranians were hoping his release would generate interest in the story.) It turns out, Buehler's belief that Crypto AG was a discreet, neutral company, simply providing the best equipment, was grossly naive. Crypto AG was anything but discreet. In fact, the company had become quite diffuse.

"Swiss television traced the ownership of Crypto AG to a company in Liechtenstein, and from there back to a trust company in Munich. A witness appearing on Swiss television explained the real owner was the German government--the Federal Estates Administration.

According to [the German Newspaper] Der Spiegel, all but 6 of the 6000 shares of Crypto AG were at one time owned by Eugen Freiberger, who resided in Munich and was head of the Crypto AG managing board in 1982. Another German, Josef Bauer, an authorized tax agent of the Muenchner Treuhandgesellschaft KPMG, and who was elected to the managing board in 1970, stated that his mandate had come from the German company Siemens. Other members of Crypto AG's management had also worked at Siemens."

Furthermore, some Crypto engineers came forward to tell of secret dealings and cooperation with the NSA and it's cryptographers, the German BND, American "watchers"and Motorola engineers. The story eventually unraveled and it was learned that for decades, the US had routinely intercepted and deciphered the top secret encrypted messages of 120 countries.

"Crypto AG's enciphering process had been developed in cooperation with the NSA and the German company Siemans [and] involved secretly embedding the decryption key in the cipher text. Those who knew where to look could monitor the encrypted communication, then extract the decryption key that was also part of the transmission, and recover the plain text message. Decryption of a message by a knowledgeable third party was not any more difficult than it was for the intended receiver".

It seems that all the favorite suspects were in on the code cracking scheme. From Wayne Madsen we learn about the involvement of Israel and England.

The role of Israel may be explained by a little-reported intelligence alliance. NSA maintains a link with the Israeli sigint entity, "Department 8200," located in northern Tel Aviv at Herzliya. The sigint link is said to involve the British Government Communications Headquarters (gchq) base on Cyprus. Israel's ability to crack the Iranian Crypto AG codes indicates that Israel had access to the key decoding programs.

Madsen also elaborates on the Siemens connection. Just one big incestuous family.

"A Presidential directive on national security prepared for President Truman states that "Switzerland ... delivers precision instruments and other materials necessary for the armament of the USA and NATO countries [emphasis added]." Germany's BND, too, has apparently cooperated with the US encryption rigging scheme through Siemens Defense Electronics Group of Munich.

A previous director of Siemens called Crypto AG a "secret Siemens daughter," while a former Crypto AG financial director said, "the owner of the firm [Crypto] is the Federal Republic [of Germany]." The Siemens connection to Crypto was remarkably incestuous. Siemens provided technical assistance for the machine manipulation process. Suspicion about the German electronics giant's role in Crypto's operations was heightened when it was reported that Siemens helped raise the $1 million to spring Buehler from his Teheran prison cell. In fact, after revelations of the Crypto-Siemens association hit the Swiss press, Crypto's managing director Michael Grupe informed the employees that the advisory board to Crypto's board of directors was being dissolved. The two advisers-Alfred Nowosad and Helmut Wiesner-were both full-time Siemens employees. With the world media describing the company as a silent partner of German and American signals intelligence (sigint) agencies around the world, Grube announced that "Crypto is changing its profile.".

This all makes me very suspicious that Siemens and friends in the US and Israel are up to their old tricks. As my husband always says, "Same old shit, just a new pile".

For some further reading:
The Baltimore Sun, About December 4, 1995, pp. 9-11.
No Such Agency Part Four
Rigging the Game

The story about Crypto AG

And just to muddy the waters for you a bit, here is yet another case of the involvement of Siemens in Iran's business. In March 2010, Siemens and the Finnish telecoms firm Nokia have yet again been accused of helping the Iranian government monitor calls and texts. (Obviously they have been accused of this before but I don't have a link to that story.)

Snip:

"German engineering giant Siemens and Finnish telecoms firm Nokia have once again been accused of helping the Iranian government monitor calls and texts.
Nobel prizewinner Shirin Ebadi, speaking on France Culture radio said that some western technology companies are helping the government and called for international economic sanctions.
"Unfortunately, a certain number of firms support the Iranian regime in its repression and censorship," she said.
"It's clearly the case with Siemens and Nokia when they send the Iranian state software and technology that it can use to monitor mobile telephone calls and text messages," she continued."

Jews In America Are An Oppressed Minority -- OR ELSE!

CNN has fired Rick Sanchez, apparently because he didn't understand the unwritten rules of American "journalism".

You can read more about it here and I invite your comments below.